The alhambra granada spain_ history, myths and photos of this incredible fortress – exploring castles

The Alhambra was an Arabic fortress built while the Moors (Muslims from North Africa) still laid claim to this part of Spain – back in the c13th or so.

“Alhambra” is a Spanish rendering of the Arabic words “qa’lat al-Hamra”, meaning “red castle”. Nice beaches near barcelona The significance of the “red” part is easy to see, as it comes from the dusty red stone that was used to build the thick walls around the castle.

The entire site has got a magic feeling to it – a raise-the-hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck kind of buzz that envelops you from the moment you begin the steep climb to its entrance-way.

The Alhambra rustles with incredible Arabic myths, and is filled with the whispers of ghosts from times gone by. Most beautiful beaches near barcelona It’s staggeringly beautiful, and feels like a creation from an old story-book, miraculously brought to life.

The setting is also like something from a picture postcard. Best beach hotels in barcelona spain The Alhambra stands proudly atop of one of the steep vantage-points of Granada – a hill called La Sabika.


The castle lurks behind blood-red boundary walls, and is framed against the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain-range, some distance behind. Beach hotels near barcelona airport The Alhambra at sunset, perched upon the hill named La Sabika, and surrounded by cypress trees. Beaches close to barcelona The Sierra Nevada lurks in the distance. Best beach club barcelona Credit: Melenama (CreativeCommons). Beach hotels in barcelona area A potted history of the Alhambra

The most glorious part of the Alhambra’s history, though, was its time under the Nasrid emirs of the c13th-14th – when the Moors (Muslims from North Africa) still reigned in this part of Spain. Best beach bars barcelona Yusuf I and Mohammed V built the most beautiful sections of the complex, the Palacio Nazaries, intended for living and accommodation. Popular beaches in barcelona Reflective green pools of the Generalife gardens, close to the exit of the Palacio Nazaries. Beaches between barcelona and valencia The entire site is flanked with cool, shady palm trees.

After the Spanish Christian monarchs defeated the Moors and captured Granada in 1492, they used the Alhambra as their own palace – adding sections and destroying others, including, terribly, a significant chunk of the Palacio Nazaries.

In addition to this, the entire site fell into significant disrepair in the 1700s, and was only placed under protection as an international monument in about 1870.

The only issue which may rather spoil your enjoyment is that you might be accompanied by too many other tourists – there’s unfortunately no way around this, as a timed ticketing system means that the Alhambra is busy from the moment it opens to the second it shuts. Best beach in barcelona for families Even with the crowds, though, you won’t fail to be swept up in the castle’s magic. Best beach in barcelona tripadvisor Shady archways were built throughout the Palacio Nazaries, to allow royalty to enjoy the views and fresh air, without being burned by the scorching summer sun. Nudist beaches in barcelona spain Exploring the sensational Palacio Nazaries

The Palacio Nazaries is the high-point of any visit to the Alhambra, and even to Spain! It’s definitely the most beautiful Muslim building in Europe, and is in remarkable condition, considering it was built in the c13th and has suffered years of abuse since.

The Palacio Nazaries contains beautiful courtyards filled with sparkling water; tall, cool chambers filled with intricate, geometric Arabic tiling, and elaborate ante-rooms, filled with stucco-work etched onto dark walls.

On your visit to the Palacio, you’ll pass through numerous rooms, alcoves, and mesmeric cubby-holes. Beaches near barcelona city However, the palace consists of and distinct sections: which include the Mexuar connecting to the Patio del Cuatro Dorado; Palacio de Comares; and the Palacio de los Leones. Beaches in spain near barcelona Beautiful stucco detailing in the Palacio Nazaries. Best beaches in barcelona map For obvious reasons, visitors are carefully watched to make sure they don’t touch or break this magnificent craft.

The Mexuar is the first hall you’ll enter, and sets you up for the majesty of the rest of the palace. Beaches in barcelona in april It’s pierced by tall, wooden columns, and beautiful Arabic tiling lines the walls.

From this room, you’ll walk through the Patio del Cuatro Dorado – basically an airy little connecting way between the two palaces. Beaches in barcelona in august Off to one side of it is the ‘Cuatro Dorado’, or ‘golden room’ itself – the name is slightly misleading, and more means ‘guilded room’, in reference to the hugely ornate stucco-work ceilings. Beaches of sitges catalonia near barcelona Interior detailing of the connecting pathway between the Mexuar and the Comares Palace. Beaches of barcelona photos As you can see, the level of ornate carving is unbelievable.

On walking through this connecting patrio, you’ll enter the Comares Palace. Top beaches near barcelona It’s a collection of majestic rooms, all collected around a central courtyard of the Myrtle-trees.

It was the most important palace in the Alhambra – location of the throne of Yusuf I. Nice beaches in barcelona The magnificent Salon de Embajadores is the throne-room, and, if you look to the ceiling, you’ll be able to see ornate details in the woooden ceiling, which represent the seven Islamic heavens, through which a soul must ascend after death.

The final – and most magnificent stop – is the adjoining palace built by Mohammed V – the Palacio de los Leones (of the lions). Beaches outside of barcelona This palace is set around the world-famous Patio de los Leones, a beautiful patio where water trickles from the mouths of 12 marble lions.

Unfortunately, this jaw-dropping sight tends to be somewhat ovverrun by tourists. Best beaches to visit in barcelona Around this span out some heart-stoppingly beautiful rooms and chambers, including the Sala de Dos Hermanas, with its huge central dome and star-like constellations; and the Sala de los Reyes, wih padded, leather-lined ceilings. Quiet beaches in barcelona Cool green pools of the Partal Gardens, at the exit of the Palacio Nazaries.

Tired and feeling probably quite emotional after all that world-class sight-seeing, you’ll leave the Alhambra via the beautifully manicured Partal Gardens. Barcelona beaches review Other Attractions in the Alhambra: the Palace of Carlos V, the Alcazaba, and the Generalife

The Palacio de Carlos V is a slightly weird, but nonetheless interesting, addition to the Alhambra complex. Beaches near girona barcelona It was built as an add-on by the Spanish in 1532, and is a series of rooms around a vast, columned, circular courtyard.

It’s certainly impressive, although it’s rather overshadowed by other parts of the Alhambra. Beaches in barcelona map Inside, you’ll find a Museum of the Alhambra, which hosts a treasure-trove of historical nicknacks, and the Museum of Fine Arts (amusingly free for EU nationals only), which displays art and scuplture with a Granada theme. Best beaches near barcelona This is the Palacio Carlos V. Spain beaches near barcelona As you can see, Renaissance-style marble columns surround the central, circular courtyard.

Many of the buildings are sadly destroyed nowadays, but there are two beautiful towers to climb, including Torre de la Vela, the watchtower, which can be scaled for lovely, gusty views across the city of Granada.

The Alcazaba stood firm until 1492 when the Spanish forces conquered the Alhambra: that year, after capture, the flag of the ‘reconquista’ was flown, demonstrating that Spain had expelled the Moors from her lands. Beaches in barcelona in july A view within the Alcazaba: looking towards the Torre de la Vela. Beaches near barcelona Granada spreads out beneath like a delicate carpet.

Meaning ‘architects gardens’, the Generalife is an outstandlingly beautiful network of delicate water-fountains, carefully-clipped bushes and fragrant flowers, criss-crossed with gravel paths. Best beaches around barcelona It’s a lovely place to while away a relaxing few hours. Best beaches close to barcelona Planning Your Visit to the Alhambra

You’ll need to buy a ticket for either a morning or afternoon visit, and once your time’s up, you’re out. Top 5 beaches in barcelona There are no tours (unless you want to book one): you can wander the grounds and buildings as you please during your half day, with one exception… The Moors brought irrigation to Spain – and Alhambra is filled with the sounds of trickling water.

Entrance to the Palacio Nazaries is included in your ticket, but entrance is more tightly regulated – your ticket will have a half-hour timestamp upon it for your visiting slot.

This is because there’s only room for 300 people at a time in the palace. Nudist beaches near barcelona If you miss your slot, tough luck! Because of this, do plan your timings carefully and make sure you don’t miss out, as this Nasrid Palace is the best bit.

If you don’t want to visit the buildings of the Alhambra (or, all if the ‘full site’ tickets have sold out for the day) you can buy a ‘gardens only’ ticket to see the wonderful gardens and water features of the Generalife. Best beaches in barcelona for adults (Access to the Generalife is normally included all the ‘full site’ tickets, so you don’t need both).

Tickets numbers are limited each day – and the Alhambra almost always sells out, especially in the summer. Beaches of barcelona I strongly recommend you either start queuing early for your ticket, or book online.